“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a huge lie we all grew up with on the playground at school. Actions may speak louder than words, but words DO hurt us, even our own. They also have the power to influence or destroy, liberate or enslave, encourage or shatter, and attach or disconnect.
Perhaps, that’s why I just cringe every time I hear someone or myself say, “MY ex-narcissist.” I recognize that many people might think I am making a big to-do about these 3 little words, but every word we say matters. Words are so important; even more than we realize. They literally shape our perceptions and our inner reality. The words we choose, not only have a gigantic impact on our listeners but on ourselves as well.
When we attach the word “MY” to our ex-narcissist (my ex-narcissist), we are expressing belonging, possession, and association. Why the heck would we want to fasten ourselves for eternity to one those creatures, and all the associated negative memories? Aren’t we trying to do the exact opposite? Isn’t the goal to completely disconnect from them, and the memories of their abuse? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could develop narc-amnesia, and erase them entirely from our recollection, and memory bank? Well, it’s never going to happen if we continue to refer to them as “MY” ex-narcissist.” By using the word “MY” they become part of us forever and stay embedded in our psyche, like an incurable cancer.
Eskimos have 50 words for snow, and 70 words for ice. If the Eskimos can figure out 70 different ways to describe the English word for ice, then certainly we can figure out another way to describe the ex-narcissist from our past.
Still thinking I’m making too much of a fuss over the phrase “MY ex-narcissist”? Tony Robbins tells a true story about a company that used the power of “transformational vocabulary” in his book titled, Awaken The Giant Within. By changing just one word in their corporate culture, a nationwide trucking company named PIE cut erroneous shipping errors from 56% to 10% in just 30 days. What was the one word they changed? Instead of calling their employees “workers” or “truckers” they changed their job title to “craftsmen.” Nothing else changed except their job title, yet the workers began to see themselves as craftsmen and began taking more pride in their work, ultimately saving the company a quarter million dollars a year.
If you are still struggling with moving on from the narcissist in your past, maybe it’s time to apply the power of “transformational vocabulary” to amputate the narcissist from your psyche, by altering your vernacular. As a replacement for “MY” ex-narcissist, select a phrase that disclaims the narcissist and permanently evicts him, or her, from your custody. If you are skeptical if this little word change can really make you feel better, just think of the results a simple word change did, for the company PIE, in as little as 30 days!
“By changing your habitual vocabulary, you can actually modify how you think, feel, and experience. Specifically, altering the words you use to speak of and think about any situation, you can deliberately change your emotional state and your life experience”. ~Tony Robbins
I heard someone refer to their ex-narcissist as “the infestation.” Not her infestation, just “the infestation.” I thought it was fantastic. I’m also fond of “what’s his face.” This phrase is a conscious choice to deliberately decrease any link, or connection to the narcissist, and his significance in the world. People remember the names of people who are important to them, the ones that aren’t, not so much.
Words have the power to obstruct connection or invite it. They frame our perceptions and shape our emotional experiences. What words can you think of to replace the phrase “My” ex-narcissist?
Copyright © 2015 Bree Bonchay. All Rights Reserved.
Bree Bonchay, LCSW, is a psychotherapist with over 18 years of experience working in the field of mental health and trauma recovery. She specializes in helping people recover from toxic relationships and shares her insights about Narcissistic Personality Disorder and psychopathy in her blog FreeFromToxic. Her articles have been featured in major online magazines and she has appeared on radio as a guest expert. She is also a dedicated advocate, educator, and facilitates survivor support groups and workshops.
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